I have been blogging for almost a fortnight now and not once did it occur; I had not mentioned the most important personality trait about myself. I’m a stammerer. I have learnt to embrace my stuttering. The way Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones, yeah I’m a fan 😀) says “Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like an armour and it can never be used to hurt you.” He didn’t allow his shortcomings to become his weakness so did I. I learnt to grow around my stuttering.
I remember I first stuttered when I was four. I wasn’t self-conscious about it but being pointed out and corrected, sometimes even beaten made it worse.
While I was at school I was okay with the stuttering, in fact, I spoke so much at school, I was called ‘talkative’ The fact being I liked talking so much because I had no one at home with whom I could speak. The adults were bickering or yelling at me.
By the time I went to college I was stuttering a lot and talking to strangers or talking on the phone was still an issue. However, I still made friends at college and continued with my habit of chattering. (Even today I can’t keep quiet for long, I have to talk). No one ever made fun of me, at least not on my face, but I always knew the look.
When I was sixteen, I went in for speech therapy. Going for therapy was the best thing that could have happened. Even though I didn’t get a cure for the stuttering I learnt how to embrace it. I learnt about other interests and hobbies (writing was one of them) When I completed my therapy I was a confident young woman and didn’t care whether I stuttered or what people thought of it.
After coming out of therapy, I was bustling with confidence. I always wanted to take part in a personality show, by this time I had lost weight and was not so conscious about my stutter so I applied for it and got selected. I was jumping with joy. I didn’t win the competition but it didn’t matter, I had walked the ramp and stood in an auditorium filled with three thousand people and introduced myself without stuttering. While I was awaiting my turn I could hear my therapist voice in my head, asking me to breathe slowly and only visualise the positives. By the time I completed my introduction I had tears in my eyes. It was an emotional moment for me.
When I completed my education and went for a few job interviews I stuttered. Sometimes before the interview, I informed them that I’m a stutterer, this was a kind of a defence mechanism I created which gave me confidence. Sometimes during the entire interview, I didn’t stutter at all.
I got a minor hiccup when I had taken up a job as a telephone operator/receptionist. The HR guy who hired me was aware of my stuttering but it didn’t bother him, but during the course of my job the other employees constantly brought it up with him. So after a few months, they handed me the pink slip. This same HR guy asked me to go for an interview to a call centre, (this was during the BPO boom in India and every second person had a BPO job) I was rejected again because of my stuttering. I felt bad about it but I didn’t cry. Silently I promised myself that one day I will be back one day and will clear the interview.
For ten years after that I stuck to Finance & Marketing. When I went to Business School inspite of my stuttering I got good grades in presentations and debates.
Years later I received an interview call from the same call centre that had rejected me. I didn’t want to take up the job (working the graveyard shift was not my cup of tea) but I went for the interview and accepted their offer letter and that was when the dam finally broke. For a decade I had kept the failure buried inside me, I just couldn’t stop crying.
A few months after that I was recruited by another company for the post of a Front Office Assistant which involved taking and making calls, something that was out of my comfort zone. The pay was peanuts but I did it and till date they say they haven’t found an employee like me. (I like boasting about it 😜)
Stuttering taught me to be a better communicator. I still stutter, I’m aware of it, but I just don’t care. I know at times I’m referred to ‘As the girl who stammers’ I feel proud very proud.